DETROIT — Hyundai's done a lot of research on this one.
The Santa Cruz Crossover Truck Concept is a pickup. But Hyundai said at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show here that the Santa Cruz isn't trying to be an alternative to a traditional pickup — it's just trying to be a small, maneuverable utility vehicle with a place to put things you'd rather not carry in the cabin.
Attempting to fuse the attributes of today's wildly popular compact crossover vehicles with those of a "lifestyle" pickup, the Santa Cruz concept "meets the unspoken needs of a growing Millennial lifestyle we call weekend urban adventurers," said Mark Dipko, director of corporate planning for Hyundai Motor America.
Dipko said younger, largely urban-living buyers would like to have a vehicle with an open bed for light hauling, but don't want the size or cost of traditional full-size pickups, which now have an average transaction price exceeding $40,000.
Even though there have been similar pickup truck attempts in the past, this time it's different: Hyundai Motor America CEO Dave Zuchowski says the Santa Cruz "is one of the most researched concepts we've ever done."
Zuchowski said the work with potential consumers demonstrates a desire for some attributes of a pickup truck, but without the size or cost. Dipko said further support comes from the fact that in today's market for conventional pickup trucks like the Ford F-150 or Ram 1500, those under the age of 30 make up just 7 percent of buyers. That means there are many potential buyers current pickup models don't serve, he said.
The Hyundai Santa Cruz Crossover Truck Concept features a cabin for five, with rear-hinged rear doors to facilitate access to the rear seats and a small open bed. But there's a trick: the rear of the bed can be pulled out like a drawer to provide extra length when needed. With the bed extended, Hyundai says total length is similar to the bed of a midsize pickup (which typically can be 5.5 feet to 6.5 feet).
Although Hyundai didn't provide exact dimensions at the Santa Cruz's unveiling here, the concept truck's bed likely is on the shorter end of that bed-length spectrum.
Power for the Santa Cruz concept comes from a 2.0-liter four-cylinder diesel that churns out 190 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque. The concept pickup also is fitted with Hyundai's HTRAC all-wheel-drive system. The layout would provide highway fuel economy in the high 30-mpg range, the company projects.
Hyundai wouldn't confirm it will make a production version of the Santa Cruz Crossover Truck Concept, but some executives at the show here insinuated the company is serious about building it.
Edmunds says: It's not like it hasn't been tried before, but it appears the Santa Cruz Crossover Truck Concept brings some fresh thinking (and execution) to the idea of pickup-car fusion.